How to Use a Camping Coffee Percolator in 8 Simple Steps

We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. Learn more

If you’re a coffee-lover, one thing that you definitely don’t want to skip during your camping trip is your morning coffee. Without your coffee, you could find yourself feeling grumpy due to the lack of energy. This can certainly spoil the fun that comes with your camping adventure.

Preparing a good cup of coffee while camping is definitely possible, thanks to the coffee percolator. When taking this machine on your camping trip, you’ll wake up to the sweet aroma of perfectly roasted coffee and that should be enough to perk you up and prepare you for the activities of the day.

Read on for some tips on how to use a camping coffee percolator.

Making Camping Coffee

One of the most common methods that campers use when preparing coffee is to brew it over a campfire. But if you’re a coffee-lover, then you know that the taste is totally different. Sure, preparing a delicious cup of coffee in the woods is somewhat challenging, but this isn’t really impossible.

Thanks to the coffee percolator, enjoying a delicious coffee on the trail is now possible. If this is the first time you have heard of the percolator, then you’re probably wondering how this thing works when preparing a piping hot cup of coffee outdoors.

How Does a Coffee Percolator Work?

Although coffee percolators are now available in different models, they pretty much work in the same way. This device is designed in such a way that it looks just like a regular coffee pot. Inside, you’ll find the component that houses the basket where the coffee grounds are placed.

To prepare the coffee, pour water on the outer shell of the machine. Then the basket will be lowered towards the water. When the water starts to boil, the coffee grounds from the basket will mix with the water, producing the most delicious coffee ever.

These coffee percolators for camping require the use of a filter to produce coffee and it’s no different than the usual coffee maker that you have back home.

How to Use a Camping Coffee Percolator

camping coffee

It’s important that you familiarize yourself with the different parts and components of the coffee percolator.

First of all, the percolator comes with a pot. Then there’s a vertical tube that lines the machine vertically, from bottom to top. The basket that houses the coffee grounds sits at the tube. It comes in the form of a perforated chamber that comes with a lid. The stem, as well as the basket, is held in the pot.

When you put the percolator together, it’s important to ensure that the tube’s top, as well as the bubble spot, are lined together. The “bubble spot” is where the water will be boiling and rising coming from the tube. This is your indication that the pot is already brewing.

So, here’s how to use your coffee percolator:

1. Start a Campfire

First of all, you need to build a campfire. Place a grate on top because this is where you’ll place your percolator. It should be hanging right above the tall flames that come out of the campfire. Make sure you plan the setup accordingly.

2. Fill the Camping Coffee Percolator with Water

Just like with the other methods of brewing coffee, the first thing you should do is to measure the water to use for your coffee. Any coffee lover will recommend using filtered water when brewing coffee. But if you don’t have it on-site, any clean water will do.

You’ll see markings inside the percolator that will guide you on the amount of water to fill. You can also refer to the spout as your guide. Pouring water beyond the spout could make the coffee grounds escape out of the water so make sure you avoid that.

3. Attach the Basket to the Stem

The percolator works by directing the boiling water upwards into the basket that’s holding the coffee grounds. When the water reaches the grinds, it will recycle back into the percolator producing a hot cup of delicious coffee. But before you can put coffee grounds into the basket, you must first connect the basket to the stem.

4. Add Coffee Grounds

You can choose to attach a filter into the basket where the coffee grounds are placed. But filters aren’t really necessary and you might find it a hassle to bring in your camping trip. However, if you want to reduce the presence of cholesterol and oil in your coffee, then a filter will be necessary.

If you want to use a filter, you must first attach it to the basket and add the coffee grounds. Remember that when brewing coffee using a percolator, coarse coffee grounds will work best. Feel free to adjust the coffee’s ratio to water, depending on your preferences and the strength of the coffee that you want. Start by using a tablespoon of coffee grounds for every cup of water.

After you add the coffee into the basket, give the percolator a gentle shake in order to remove any of those loose coffee grounds that get stuck into the stem.

5. Assemble the Coffee Percolator

Once your coffee is already in the basket, gently attach the basket and stem into the percolator and cover it with the lid.

6. Set the Percolator Near the Flames

At this point, the campfire you’ve built should be blazing and perhaps you’re now getting excited to savor a delicious cup of coffee. Set the percolator right above the flame in order to boil the water. You’ll easily notice if the water is already boiling by simply looking at the clear dome and waiting for the water to go up. It will also produce a sound that indicates the water is already at a boiling point.

7. Give Coffee Time to Percolate

When the water starts boiling, remove the pot away from the flame. After moving the pot away from direct flame, give your coffee 5 to 10 minutes to percolate. Refer to the transparent dome and you’ll notice that the water is getting darker and darker, as it produces your coffee.

8. Drink Your Camping Coffee

Now you can start enjoying your delicious coffee that the coffee percolator has produced. But be careful, the pot could be hot so use protection and sip the coffee gently. Make sure you dispose of the coffee grounds left in the basket and rinse the percolator properly so you can use it again in the morning.

How to Choose the Best Coffee Percolator

camping coffee percolator

Now that you know how to use a camping coffee percolator, it’s time to go shopping and look at the best percolator to take on your next camping trip. You’ll most likely find a lot of options out there, so we’ll share some tips on how to choose the best one.

Read Reviews Online

As with buying any product online, take time to read reviews from customers who have tried using a coffee percolator. The reviews will give you an idea of whether the customers have been satisfied with the way the product works. Customers will also mention some of the best features that a particular model has so check that out as well.

Determine Exactly What You Want

You need to identify the type of percolator that you want, depending on your situation and needs. If you want to make coffee in a more traditional way, then look for a traditional coffee percolator that you can place over a coal fire. For those who need something that they can use in their RV, an electric percolator will suit you best since you can just plug it in at the power outlet of your RV.

Check the Features 

Just like with any coffee machine, percolators are equipped with different features that make them unique from one another. So, find out what these features are before deciding to buy a specific device. And since you’re going to use it for camping, you should look for percolators that have camping style features.

Think of the Size and Capacity

This will depend on the number of people that will be drinking coffee from the percolator. Most of these machines have a capacity of 30 oz. while others are 50 oz. If you’re used to camping in a large group, you better go for a percolator with a generous capacity.

Consider Materials

Most of the coffee percolators used for camping are made from stainless steel. What’s great is that they can keep your coffee hot for a longer time and you can use them directly over the coal when preparing your coffee.

How to Clean the Percolator Basket

It’s important that you clean the percolator basket after use. This is the part that holds the coffee grounds.

Here are a few tips when it comes to this.

Mild Cleaning

If you have an electric powered percolator, make sure it’s unplugged before you start cleaning it. Leave it to cool completely first. Remove all the leftover coffee grounds. Then undo the percolator by taking the components one by one, beginning with the basket. Next, take the spreader off and the stem or tube. Use soapy water to wash off the percolator basket. Then grab a soft cloth to scrub off the basket. Rinse the pot, dry it off, and assemble again.

Deep Cleaning

When deep cleaning the machine, mix equal parts of vinegar and water. Place the basket back into the percolator and plug the unit into an outlet if you’re using an electric model. Otherwise, place it over a heat source or stove. 

After about 15 minutes, unplug the device or take away from the stove or heat source. Throw the solution away and let the percolator cool for about 15 minutes. Thoroughly rinse with water and when you’re done, use water with soap to wash the components including the basket. Never mix dishwashing soap and vinegar during the cleaning process.


Why should I buy a percolator?

The best thing about using a percolator is that it’s capable of brewing very strong coffee, which is what every coffee lover would want. When making coffee, the boiling water will repeatedly run through the coffee grounds, resulting in a stronger cup of coffee. 

Do I need to use a filter when brewing coffee with a percolator?

Yes, it’s a good idea to use a filter. It’s because the coffee percolator uses coarsely grounded coffee beans that are large enough to mix with the coffee that the percolator produces. But there are times that coffee beans still end up getting mixed with the water despite having a filter. So, to avoid this, you might as well use a filter that perfectly fits with the percolator basket.

Are all percolators electric?

Some percolators can function even without electricity. Manufacturers have made models that can be placed directly over a heat source to brew coffee.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to the best camping coffee percolator, you better go for a traditional model, which doesn’t require electricity to function. But if you’re going to use it in a different setting where there’s electricity available, you should opt for the other models.

Bringing along a coffee percolator on your camping trip can make the experience even more enjoyable and fun, especially for coffee lovers who can’t start their day without a good cup of coffee.

David Miller

My name is David and I have been an outdoor guy for as long as I can remember. I have a strong passion for the great outdoors in general and specifically camping. I am the kind of person who spends more time outdoors than indoors. I am a staunch believer in the fact that outdoor life should be well lived because it's in the natural, serene, and untamed wild that we find out who we truly are. Let’s take the journey together.

Related Articles

Back to top button